Short Stories →
RiddlesJuly 24, 2023
The symbols were unlike anything she’d ever seen. They bore no relationship with any of the known language families. She had been obsessing over them since she arrived, but still couldn’t find any sense or pattern to them, nothing that could give her a hint to their meaning. She was beginning to wonder if it was all some sort of twisted joke. The fact that both the institute and the local government kept pressuring her for the translation didn’t help her mood.
It was the only door still standing between the expedition and the innermost chamber, and they just couldn’t open it. They tried everything short of blowing it up, but it just wouldn’t budge. The answer, they thought, might be on the strange inscription on the door itself. That’s when they called her.
That was three years ago. Now, with both patronage and local permits nearing their limit she had but one more week before the whole team was sent packing home. The full moon was rising over the empty desert. Feeling totally lost and defeated, she looked at the silver disc. “Maybe the damned door just doesn’t want to be opened.” She thought, as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Why are you crying?”
The voice startled her. She turned to find a young girl standing right beside her. She must have been so distracted by her thoughts that she didn’t hear her coming up the crunching gravel road that lead to the temple.
“Oh, it’s nothing.” She said, wiping away the tears.
“Nobody cries about nothing. Are you sad?”
“I’m not sad. It’s just that I’m supposed to be the best at what I do… and I just found something I can’t do.”
“That’s not a good reason to be sad or cry. There are many things I can’t do and I don’t cry about them. What did you want to do and why did it make you cry?”
She found her heart melting by the big bright, curious eyes looking up at her.
“I was trying to solve a puzzle that would let me open a door. I’m the best in the world at solving this kind of puzzles, but I can’t solve this one and now the door will never open.”
“Have you tried knocking?”
The innocent answer was so unexpected that, in spite of her sadness, it made her laugh. But the girl continued in a very serious voice.
“Well, it’s just polite. If I closed my door and someone wanted to come in, I would at least like them to knock.”
She turned to answer, and found herself alone in the desert night. Had she been dreaming? A sudden wild thought crossed her mind. She ran to the bottom of the temple and gently knocked.
With a deep groan, the huge iron sheets slowly opened.